Plaintiff wants reasons for surgeon’s split with Aspen Valley Hospital
Dr. Bill Rodman’s highly publicized exit from Aspen Valley Hospital is now the source of contention in a personal-injury lawsuit against the surgeon and medical facility.
Attorneys for Laurence Niles, who is suing the hospital and Rodman for $4 million in Denver federal court, have asked a judge to allow the release of records related to Rodman’s exit last year. The motion, filed July 24, suggests the hospital severed Rodman’s exclusive-provider contract in part because of his job performance as head of the hospital’s trauma department.
Rodman’s attorney, Kim Childs of Denver, said Tuesday that Rodman’s reason for leaving the hospital is not relevant to Niles’ lawsuit.
“They’re trying to drudge up other stuff to bring up the question of what happened to make Dr. Rodman feel like he’s got exposure when he really doesn’t,” Childs said.
The hospital also supports Rodman’s position to not release records concerning the split, Childs said. Magistrate Judge Michael J. Watanabe has taken the matter under advisement following a two-plus hour hearing Monday in Denver, court records show.
Niles was under Aspen Valley Hospital and Rodman’s care in February 2013 when the California resident was hospitalized following a ski accident that left him with fractured ribs and a severe head injury, his lawsuit says. Doctors determined that he was potentially suffering from subarachnoid hemorrhaging, or bleeding of the brain, and kept him at Aspen Valley Hospital. The hospital’s CAT scan was down from Feb. 18 to 22, but on Feb. 23, it was working again and determined that he had brain damage. Niles was subsequently airlifted to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, staying there two weeks before being discharged March 7 with a diagnosis of intracranial hemorrhage, which is bleeding within the skull, the suit says.
Rodman and Aspen Valley Hospital have denied the allegations.
Niles’ motion says the hospital possibly could have cut Rodman’s contract with the facility, which is an exhibit to the suit, because the agreement called for termination when the trauma director under performs, shows questionable conduct or presents “imminent danger to patients.”
“Dr. Rodman was given his termination notice in 2013, the same year that (Niles’) complaint alleges that Dr. Rodman and the AVH Trauma Department (which was under the guidance and control of Dr. Rodman) were operating in a substandard fashion,” the motion says. “Based on the contractual language … it appears that Dr. Rodman’s termination was, at least in part, performance related. AVH’s termination of Dr. Rodman strongly supports (Niles’) contention that Dr. Rodman and the AVH Trauma Department were not functioning in a safe, adequate and reasonable fashion during 2013, including the time of (Niles’) hospitalization.”
Childs, however, said Rodman wasn’t terminated, but his exclusive-contract at the hospital was. The hospital offered Rodman a role with Denver-based Surgical Specialists of Colorado, which replaced Rodman, who had overseen AVH’s surgical services since 1993. He declined, taking a one-year absence with the opportunity to return in July as a private surgeon with hospital privileges.
Childs said Rodman practices throughout the state but has not rejoined the Aspen hospital.
“They’re arguing that he was terminated much like an employee for cause, and that the reason he was terminated was for the quality of care he was providing, which is completely false,” Childs said. “The hospital board decided they wanted to bring in a Denver group because there would be more surgeons that would have more coverage.”
Childs also wrote in a July 30 court filing that if Niles’ attorneys obtain information about Rodman’s departure, the doctor “will be injured through the embarrassment, annoyance, harassment and the undue burden that will occur if he or Aspen Valley Hospital is forced to turn over this documentation and information that has no relevance to his care and treatment of (Niles). Dr. Rodman has served Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley, collectively a small community, with general and trauma surgical services for more than 20 years. This community has two newspapers with a history of publishing whatever information they can find regarding doctors, hospitals, professionals and lawsuits in general.”
Attorneys for Niles and the hospital could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Drs. Les Fraser and Joe Livengood, both of Surgical Specialists, joined the hospital last summer. Livengood also serves as the hospital’s trauma medical director.
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